Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats

I2            MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE


But do the Chinese understand themselves? Will they be
China's best interpreters? Self-knowledge is proverbially
difficult, much more so in a circumstance where a great deal
of wholesome, sane-minded criticism is required. Assuredly
no language difficulty exists for the educated Chinese,.but that
long history of China is difficult for him also to master; her
arts, philosophies, poetry, literature and the theatre are
difficult for him to penetrate and illuminate with a clear and
beautiful understanding; and his own fellow-men, the fellow-
passenger in a street car or a former fellow-student now pre-
tending to rule the destiny of a whole province, are for him,
too* difficult to forgive.

For the mass of foreground details, which swamps the foreign
observer, swamps the modern Chinese as well. Perhaps he has
even less the cool detachment of the foreign observer. In his
breast is concealed a formidable struggle, or several struggles.
There is the conflict between his ideal and his real China, and a
more formidable conflict between his primeval clan-pride and
his moments of admiration for the stranger. His soul is torn
by a conflict of loyalties belonging to opposite poles, a loyalty
to old China, half romantic and half selfish, and a loyalty to
open-eyed wisdom which craves for change and a ruthless
clean-sweeping of all that is stale and putrid and dried up and
mouldy. Sometimes it is a more elementary conflict between
shame and pride, between sheer family loyalty and a critical
ashamedness for the present state of things, instincts whole-
some in themselves. But sometimes his clan-pride gets the
better of him, and between proper pride and mere reactionism
there is only a thin margin, and sometimes his instinct of
shame gets die better of him, and between a sincere desire for
reform and a mere shallow modernity and worship of the
modern bitch-goddess, there is also only a very thin margin.
To escape that is indeed a delicate task.

Where is that unity of understanding to be found? To
combine real appreciation with critical appraisal, to see with
the mind and feel with the heart, to make the mind and the